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Lowering the TCO of Multiplatform Applications for IBM Power Systems

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IBM Rational solutions for Power Systems

JK Insurance wants to grow its market share – to attract new customers and retain existing ones by offering higher quality service than their competitors.

So, the company decides to transform claims processing by allowing policy holders to report and track the status of their claims online 24/7 without the need for phone calls.

The company sets three key objectives for the project: it has to be done quickly and on a limited budget; it has to be secure and reliable; and it has to be flexible enough to extend and add new services.

Many of the applications needed for the self service Web site already existed, but they were in different programming languages including RPG, C++, Java, and .NET, and they were either packaged applications or written by different development teams. These applications weren’t originally designed for integration, but reusing them was central to meeting JK’s objectives.

Since IBM Power systems have all the superior qualities for running new workloads and multiple operating systems, it’s the ideal platform for JK to consolidate their existing AIX, IBM i, and Linux applications onto.

First, JK identified programs from existing systems that were necessary parts of the claims reporting process. They then combined these programs – like claims entry, routing and scheduling – into a new automated customer process.

JK went “live” with their new self-service claims website in just three months.

The new system relies on existing, proven applications, so the solution cost is a fraction of one built from scratch. Security and reliability come built-in. And the updated applications are integration-ready, so components can be easily reused in future applications.

JK's customers were pleased they could file claims in just 5 minutes without using the phone, and JK was able to reduce operating costs and enhance customer satisfaction.

In an increasingly competitive market, companies that can leverage and optimize their existing applications to improve underlying business processes can gain significant competitive advantage making them better positioned for future growth and increased profitability.

IBM's Rational solutions for Power Systems is the roadmap that helps companies bridge different systems distributed across the entire enterprise, helping companies cut development and application maintenance costs while maximizing the ROI of their custom and packaged applications.

Implementation can start small, and grow to cover all of a company’s integration and optimization needs, internal and external. This solution supports a Service Oriented Architecture so software can be delivered as reusable, sharable services.

JK Insurance also used IBM's Rational solutions for Power Systems products to streamline customer service by creating a new self-service website. They plan to leverage the power of their core business applications and WebSphere Application Server Express to run new workloads on their Power System Server.

This new solution leverages the Rational Software Delivery Platform to help customers:

1. Increase flexibility by integrating their application portfolio

2. Boost productivity and accelerate innovation with modern skills

3. Maximize business agility by bridging organizational silos

4. Increase system utilization by optimizing application infrastructure

Select any of the following focus areas to learn more:

1. Increase flexibility by integrating their application portfolio

To build the self-service website to improve customer satisfaction and lower employee call center costs, JK needed an understanding of their existing applications. Rational Developer for Power Systems Software provides the capability to graphically view different AIX and IBM i resources and their inter-relationships.

Rational Developer for Power Systems Software allows existing RPG, COBOL, C/C++ and EGL developers to use a common modern integrated development environment.

This allows them to be more productive because of Rational Developer for Power’s advanced editing features and debugging capabilities. It also allowed JK to standardize on a single Eclipse-based development environment.

JK started with a 5250 screen modernization project. They used Rational Host Access Transformation Services, or HATS, for 5250 applications to provide a quick and easy way to add a Web user interface to their existing green-screen applications; making them faster to learn, and easier to use.

HATS also provided Web services interfaces for integrating 5250 screen-based applications with other applications in the enterprise. Now, JK can extend their IBM i applications to employees, partners and customers through the Web, Portals, and Mobile devices.

JK wanted customers who filed claims online to receive the highest possible service, so they also used Rational Business Developer to develop modern Web 2.0 based user interfaces using EGL.

EGL is IBM’s newest business language that enabled JK to accelerate Web 2.0 and SOA development for the Power platform, increasing productivity and skills flexibility.

JK also used Rational Business Developer to create a new claims status check service that leveraged an existing COBOL program, completing the new application spanning the IBM i, AIX and WebSphere environments. They were also able to create Web Services to integrate their systems directly with business partners, such as repair centers and car rental companies.

JK’s optimization has leveraged several existing IBM i, C++, Java, and .NET applications to present an easy-to-use Web application to its customers, allowing them to report and check claims quickly, 24/7; freeing up JK’s call center representatives for more challenging tasks.

2. Boost productivity and accelerate innovation with modern skills

JK Insurance was facing a growing skills gap, resulting from a shrinking pool of skilled IT professionals who were approaching retirement. The traditional green-screen development tools also made it harder to attract new talent, developers who are used to more modern graphical development environments. JK needed a way to bridge this knowledge gap, while at the same time making 5250 application development and maintenance more attractive to younger IT professionals.

JK Insurance deployed Rational Developer for Power Systems Software, which allows existing RPG, COBOL, C/C++ and EGL developers to use a common modern integrated development environment.

This let them be more productive because of Rational Developer for Power’s advanced editing features, visual design and analysis tools, and debugging capabilities. JK also standardized its system on a single Eclipse-based development environment.

3. Maximize business agility by bridging organizational silos

JK Insurance has traditionally managed IBM i and AIX development separately from its distributed development, which is a common practice in IT organizations today. Each team maintains its own set of applications, development processes and tools.

JK’s applications were written in several different languages including RPG, C++, Java and .Net, and were managed and maintained by several different development teams. In order for this new self service application to work properly, they needed a tool that would allow the teams to collaborate on the project, and manage source control, work items, builds, and implement the company’s development process.

JK used Rational Team Concert for Power Systems Software as the foundation for the developers to collaborate. It also provided dashboards for the project managers and business leaders to gain self serve, real-time access to project status.

To ensure new business goals and application requirements were met, JK used Rational Requirements Composer and Rational Asset Manager to manage all project deliverables. This improved traceability, strengthened collaboration and reduced project risk from the start.

Finally, to ensure the highest level application quality and security, JK used Rational Quality Management solutions to improve application reliability, performance and security throughout the application lifecycle.

Rational AppScan was used to strengthen application security by automatically scanning and testing the new self-service application for vulnerabilities.

Rational Functional Tester was used to automate manual and regression testing of the new claims self-service applications to improve quality and time to market. Lastly, Rational Performance Tester ensured the new claims self-service application could handle high traffic without impacting end user response time.

4. Increase system utilization by optimizing application infrastructure

JK Insurance had a limited budget, so they were looking for a quick and low-risk way to improve performance and scalability of their existing IT infrastructure while keeping their overall development costs down. JK accomplished this by moving to the latest versions of the IBM Compilers for Power Systems.

The new and enhanced IBM Rational Compilers for programming languages such as COBOL, C/C++, and Fortran are designed to help companies unleash the full power of IBM Power architecture and middleware.

JK Insurance leveraged these compilers to maximize application performance, taking advantage of the latest multi-threading capabilities of the hardware, which resulted in a lower total cost of ownership and a higher return on IT investments.

Summary

In JK Insurance's challenging environment, IBM's Rational solutions for Power Systems provided all the tools to help make this seemingly complex task straightforward. It delivered an advanced solution in a short time.

With a comprehensive portfolio of leading services, tools and skills to support the entire application lifecycle, IBM helped JK Insurance rein in maintenance costs and extend the life, flexibility and value of their existing applications, development skills, team collaboration and infrastructure investments.

To learn more about IBM's Rational solutions for Power Systems, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit:

ibm.com/software/rational/solutions/em/

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